Feb. 9Black Panther: The AlbumThere have only been a few tracks released from this blockbuster soundtrack curated by the music industry’s current darling, Kendrick Lamar, but after listening to the singles, there is no reason that I can see to not get excited about the album. SZA’s voice sizzles on “All The Stars.” One of the more surprising aspects of the tracklist is James Blake’s name being all over it. His production on “King’s Dead” featuring Kendrick, Jay Rock, and Future is crisp, but not lacking flavor or character. And I’m not super familiar with Jay Rock’s stuff, but he goes in on his verse in this track. If the reviews of the movie are any indication to the quality of the rest of the soundtrack, then hip-hop heads should pay attention.
Franz Ferdinand, “Always Ascending”After a fairly lengthy absence, Glasgow indie rockers Franz Ferdinand have returned having eschewed the post-punk-tinged sound in favor of the more dance/disco-tinged indie style that has dominated the indie rock scene for the last few years. I cannot blame Franz Ferdinand for trying to expand their sound, and after losing founding guitarist Nick McCarthy, it is understandable for there to be a sonic shift, but I think overall that “Always Ascending” has sagged a little bit. The title track is one of their best, melding the weird groove they get with the new dance focus fairly seamlessly without losing the guitar-focused drive of earlier albums. “Lazy Boy” is also pure Franz Ferdinand goofiness, but some of the deeper cuts on the record lean surprisingly heavy on the synth-disco side. If you read this section regularly then you know I am a big synthesizer fan, but tracks like “Feel The Love Go” ultimately fall flat for me.
Legend of the Seagullmen, “Self Titled”Supergroups are a dime a dozen in this era of internet collaboration. But every once in a while a new one pops up that catches my eye and my ear. Legend of the Seagullmen features Brent Hinds of Mastodon, Danny Carey of Tool, Pete Griffin of Zappa Plays Zappa, and ... Jimmy Hayward, a film director whose credits include “Jonah Hex” and “Horton Hears a Who.” Having two titans of progressive metal in one band is a dream come true for a lot of music nerds like me. It is hard to separate the vision I had for a Mastodon/Tool collaboration and get a fair viewing of this album. It definitely isn’t what I had hoped it would be. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. “Legend of the Seagullmen” has an identity all its own, telling the story of a ghost pirate crew and the things they find on their adventures on the high seas. Musically, it veers fairly simplistic but leaves a lot of room to breathe, bringing in weird theremin passages. There is a lot to love here, we just have to get over that it’s not a proper Mastodon/Tool crossover.
Also releasing this week: New albums from MGMT, Fu Manchu, Dashboard Confessional, Atlas Moth, and Harm’s Way.”Cooper Stapleton